Jürgen Klopp praised Liverpool’s show of character against Ajax but admitted the late victory was only “the first step” towards reigniting their Champions League campaign.
The Liverpool manager claimed his team’s performance was unrecognisable from the woeful defeat against Napoli last week, although they needed an 89th-minute header from Joël Matip to eventually overcome the Dutch champions at Anfield.
Mohamed Salah’s first goal in eight Champions League games gave Liverpool an early lead before Mohammed Kudus levelled for Ajax with a superb finish.
Asked what improvement he witnessed at Anfield, Klopp said: “A lot. I think if you put the two games, Napoli and tonight, next to each other you wouldn’t recognise that it is the same sport. It was all different. The start was different. The middle was different. The finish was different. The way we played, the way we defended, everything was different. Much higher intensity, much more aggression, braver, more ready, everything was better. It’s the first step, nothing else, not more.”
Klopp admitted Kudus’s goal, from Ajax’s first real chance of the game, was typical of the setbacks his team have suffered this season, but the reaction showed the strength of their character.
“It is the most important thing,” he added. “Nobody gets carried away tonight. It’s not like the boys are sat in the dressing room and cannot get their arms down. It’s more relief. We showed us and the outside world that we understood. The boys really reacted and I like that a lot, it was a super intense game. That’s how it is in life, when you have a problem and you want to sort it, you want to sort it immediately, put a bigger shift in and work harder again and you get everything immediately back. But it’s not like this. The whole story of the game is a real help. I don’t think we need it given there’s a two-and-a-half week break until we play again, which is strange. But I was not surprised when they scored, not because we defended badly but because it’s pretty likely in situations like this.
“The opponent doesn’t need a lot (to score) and the goal they scored was incredible. Pretty much every other shot Ali would have saved, but this one was one you couldn’t save. The reaction to show that we are still able to show these kind of things was the most important thing tonight.”
Klopp laughs off All-Star game idea
Klopp was less-than-impressed with Chelsea’s new American owner Todd Boehly’s suggestion earlier in the day that the Premier League should introduce a US-style All-Star game between teams in the north and south of England.
“He doesn’t wait long. When he finds a date for that he can call me,” he added. “In American sports these players have four-month breaks. Does he want to bring the Harlem Globetrotters as well?
“Maybe he can explain that. I’m not sure people want to see that – United players, Liverpool players, City players, Everton players all together. It is not the national team. Did he really say it?” PA Media